740.00112 European War 1939/4000: Telegram

The Consul General at Casablanca (Russell) to the Secretary of State

662. From Murphy. I called on General Noguès at Rabat on his invitation. His purpose was to urge that the United States continue its supply program for North Africa. He talked at considerable [Page 485]length of Morocco’s economic troubles, the gist of his conversation being that although the United States only feeds North Africa with a dropper, even that small trickle is of great importance in the prevailing difficult economic situation. Morocco desperately needs textiles and petroleum products. I suggested that the French Government has been informed that our policy is under review in Washington. I said that we wondered if General Weygand’s departure at German request presages further concessions to the Germans who we understand are reenforcing their position in Morocco. Noguès repeated the refrain that there is no change regarding German infiltration in Morocco. He also repeated what several other officials have said to the effect that the Germans fear Anglo-American action and influence in this area more than we fear the Germans. He also made reference to the story that Weygand was the victim of American and British press and radio, saying that if the United States could keep French Africa out of the news for 6 months nothing would happen here.

Noguès also declared that he had just talked with Childs and gained the impression that our Consuls in Casablanca were telegraphing alarming reports concerning German activity in Morocco which are unjustified by the facts. He denied that the German Armistice Commission had been granted or is exercising police or political powers and stated that the Commission’s personnel has not been augmented since Weygand’s departure. He criticized Weygand’s policy of ruthlessly penalizing French and native persons in this area who made contact with the German representatives stating that such policy was unwise because it infuriated the Germans and goaded them into demanding new concessions.

My investigation leads me to believe that Vice Consul Reid’s telegraphic report 642, November 23 [22], 11 [10] a.m.,40 regarding the alleged arrival of 50 armed uniformed Germans and his further report in telegram 621, November 18, 6 p.m.,40 stating that German Armistice Commission personnel would be authorized to exercise police powers, are unsubstantiated and are simply part of a heavy crop of rumors following on Weygand’s departure. I have discussed these and similar reports with Russell and Childs who agree that greater effort be made to verify the accuracy of such stories before transmission.

I suggested to Nogués that our supply program undoubtedly hinges on France’s general policy and the concessions it may make or has made to Germany regarding this area.

Noguès said that he could not discuss general policy—he follows the Marshal, and Vichy has decided to centralize its authority over [Page 486]French Africa. He could only say that thus far there is no change in Morocco, but he believed there would be “an increase in the number of the German Armistice Commission personnel”. He said he was going to Vichy shortly to discuss that matter.

I find practically no change in the physical situation in Morocco but a general apprehension that Vichy concessions may lead to changes in the future. Noguès, I find, is as well disposed as ever but it is obvious that we can not count heavily on him for independent resistance to Vichy decisions in favor of German influence in Morocco.

Repeated to Vichy. [Murphy.]

Russell
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